The Rise of the False Teachers

2 Peter 2.1-3

Peter introduces the false teachers, who, like the false prophets of old, will arise in the church. Folks who are not believers, who sin with abandon, who are greedy, deceitful and exploiting, and who prey upon the spiritually weak. In other words, not the good guys.

And so believers have the option…listen to Peter or listen to the false teachers. To stay on Torah Road…the way of truth or be led away from it. A useful and fruitful life in which they never stumble leading to an abundant entrance into the kingdom, or a useless and unfruitful life, being blind or short sighted and forgetting their purification from their former sins. Option A or option B.

The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we choose life…shouldn’t we choose the blessing? Shouldn’t we choose Option A? Don’t we all want to hear, “Well done…”? So why don’t we do it? What keeps us from choosing Option A? Simple…“me”. If I pursue Option A, I have to give up stuff. I have to say, “no” to things I really don’t want to say no to, even though they bring nothing but heartache. Because I like to call the shots. I like being the main character in my story.

But one day we will have to give an account. Everyone one of us. Every knee will bow…whether willingly or unwillingly. Jesus will either be your King or your Judge, your Lord or your Master. What you do today matters.

Do you want to experience more grace and peace in your life…a more abundant life? You’ve been given everything necessary to live the kind of life that God calls you to live…the Spirit and the Word. Being informed by the Word and empowered by the Spirit you can be transformed to live and love more and more like Jesus. But you have to be intentional. It won’t just happen. You have to choose.

So choose life today.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Eyewitnesses

2 Peter 1.12-21

Knowing that his time is short, Peter reminds us to hold on to the truth that Jesus is coming back…the King will return. When He does, we will have to give an account to Him for how we lived our lives…how we invested (or failed to invest) our minas, so what we do today matters.

Like Solomon’s advice to his son in the book of Proverbs, Peter presents two options for us. The way of the wise and the way of the foolish. The wise will listen to him. The foolish…will not. So what you do today matters.

Will we live lives anchored in the Truth, empowered by the Spirit that count for eternity? Or will we live lives for the here and now, empowered by our own feeble attempts to build bigger barns during our fleeting time on earth…being unfruitful and useless for the kingdom? What you do today matters.

How are you investing your mina? When it comes time to give an account…will it be with great joy or great sadness? The choice really is yours. What you do today matters.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Making An Entrance

2 Peter 1.1-11

What kind of entrance do you want to make into the kingdom? How you live your life today matters. Through the Word and the Spirit we have everything we need to pursue the life God calls us to live.

Two options for entering the kingdom. One mentioned. One implied. One involves a celebration…a rich homecoming. The other…not so much. 

Both are true of believers. Both have trusted Jesus at some point in their life. Both will enter the Kingdom. But both do not enjoy the same caliber of life today, nor will they have the same kind of entrance into the Kingdom. What, or maybe better, why the difference? What you do today matters.

The difference is the philosophy or worldview that the believer lives by. Option A: biblical worldview informed by the Word and lived out in the power of the Spirit. Option B: worldview informed by our “it’s-all-about-me” culture that defines pleasure as the highest good. Living for today…all that matters is the here and now.

We all have the opportunity to live an option A kind of life. In fact that’s what God saved us for (Ephesians 2.10; Titus 2.11-15), and He is the One who empowers us to live such a life (Philippians 2.13; Colossians 1.29). But we have to be intentional. We have to make every effort to pursue that kind of life. It’s gonna cost you something.

What you do today matters. Every choice that you make has an impact in time and in eternity. Who are the voices speaking into your life today? Do reason up or reason down? Have you trained yourself to see the world through the lens of Scripture? Are you asking God for help to do so?

Having been equipped by God with the means necessary to be transformed to live and love like Jesus…namely, the Word and the Spirit, and having been given the road-map to get there from faith to love, and the present and future benefits thereof, it’s time…it’s time to make every effort…to press on toward the goal…to diligently pursue this thing called the Christian life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Generosity 101

Luke 18-19, 21

God’s economy is different than ours. The stories of the rich young ruler, Zaccheus and the poor widow are reminders that God is not looking at the size of the gift, but the motivation behind giving it. God’s not after our money, but us. And yet we cannot give ourselves to Him without giving everything to Him, including our stuff.

Just as our Father is generous, He wants us to be generous too. Because of our so great salvation, our thankful and happy hearts should loosen our grip on our stuff and free us up to give…and to give generously like both Zach and the widow. In fact, we as believers should be the most generous folks on the planet!

But so often we’re not. We act more like the rich young ruler. Maybe it’s because we have too low a view of God. Maybe we’re afraid to trust Him because deep down inside we believe Him to be stingy…that somehow He might hold out on us. And if we give away what we have, there won’t be enough for us. 

Yeah…but that’s not the picture that the Bible paints of who God is…think about the number of stars in the heavens, the number of galaxies, the greatness and vastness of space. In the Genesis account, when God creates the sun, moon and stars, what is their purpose? To give light to the earth, and for signs and for seasons. Seems to be a bit extravagant, doesn’t it?

What about God’s grace and His mercy and His love? His boundless, immeasurable love? The cross where the sins of all mankind were placed on His beloved Son. Every sin atoned for. Every one. So that all might be saved…if they will believe in Jesus.

So if God is so incredibly generous in these things…both in creation and in redemption, then why would He be stingy in providing for our needs (birds and flowers)? Our generosity problem has nothing to do with our wealth or lack thereof. The widow was certainly not rich by anyone’s standards. It has everything to do with our faith and obedience. So the question is, do you trust God enough to give generously?

When I was growing up, giving was not a practice my parents modeled. With eight kids…money was always tight. So giving wasn’t something I was used to…and putting myself through college, I never had two nickels to rub together as my dad would say. I didn’t think I could afford to give. So it wasn’t until I met my wife Wendy that I even considered giving as a spiritual discipline. And even then, I wasn’t sure how the giving thing would work out. But we did it anyway, and we haven’t looked back since.

For some of us, giving is a discipline that we’ve practiced for awhile. Somewhere along your spiritual journey, someone challenged you to make giving a regular practice, and so you’ve done it for years. Thank you for your faithfulness and your generosity.

If giving is new to you, I know what it feels like to look at your finances and wonder, “how?” Let me just challenge you to try it. Pick an amount and begin to give regularly. Set a goal…maybe ten percent, and build those giving muscles until you reach it. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Strive to become a generous giver, not a bigger barn builder, knowing that investing in the kingdom pays eternal dividends. Then your heart won’t be wrapped up in your stuff, but in the kingdom. Just like Zach and the widow.

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This post is based on a sermon from our main service. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Story: Series Wrap-up

Genesis, Daniel, Luke-Acts, Romans, Revelation

Genesis begins with a man in a garden enjoying perfect fellowship with God…Revelation ends with man in a garden enjoying perfect fellowship with God.

Jesus is coming back. Until He does, our work is not done. Our job in this in-between time is to invest our minas well…to live our lives on purpose. Share our stories. To build into the lives of those around us. Using our gifts to serve and our resources to further the kingdom. Making a difference…going back in for just one more. Being ready.

Good news is that we are not alone…the Spirit empowers us to live the life we have been called to live.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. He is coming back, and He will either be your King or your Judge. But He would rather be your King. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our main service. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

A Final Word

Revelation 22.6-21

John finishes Revelation pulling together the two major themes of the book…1) Jesus is coming soon, so 2) be ready. Live your life in such a way that Jesus could return at any moment and find you faithfully and fearlessly investing the mina He’s entrusted to you.

If you have trusted in Jesus, live life on purpose…like what you do matters. Share your story. Invest in the lives of those around you. Use your gifts to serve and your resources to further the kingdom. Make a difference. You are saved by grace, but you will be judged by your works. So be ready.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, come to the waters. Only those who have washed their robes may enter the eternal city, only those who have trusted in Jesus. God invites you to “come”. If you are thirsty, come. If you want to take of the water of life without cost, come. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The River and Tree of Life aka Back to the Garden

Revelation 22.1-5

John finishes his description of the new heaven and the new earth with a trip back to the garden. Or maybe better a trip forward to the garden. The river and tree of life. The removal of the curse. God’s presence. Seeing Him face to face. Serving Him. Ruling and reigning with Him forever.

But now we live in this in-between time…in between the time of Jesus’ ascension and His return…where life seems to be crashing down around us because of sin and death and the effects of the curse. In this in-between space where the consequences of our own sin…we might call it compromise…and the sin of others, especially persecution, impact us in often tragic ways, we can’t forget that our hope is not in this broken world. Let me say that one more time…our hope is not in this broken world. I think we forget that. We are just sojourners passing through, on our way home.

As I was thinking about that, it struck me…this world is like a burning house. Hang with me for a minute. When you see a house on fire, you don’t go in to rearrange the furniture. You don’t settle in and make yourself comfortable. Nope. You grab the first person you see and pull them out. Then you go back and grab one more. And then you go back and grab one more… Our job is to keep pulling folks out of the fire until God calls us home. To storm the gates of hell until we see our Savior fact to face. To share our story with those around us, investing our mina until the King returns. No…our hope is not in this broken world, but in a new one, a re-created one where Jesus is reigning. So Don’t give up on your faith. Don’t give in to the pressure of this world. Don’t forget…Jesus wins.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21.9-27

The New Jerusalem. A city beyond our wildest dreams. More beautiful and breathtaking than anything we’ve ever seen or even imagined. The home of a redeemed Israel, and the destination of believers from the nations who bring their glory into it. Diamond walls, pearly gates, radiant jewels and streets of gold…

A strong contrast to Babylon and the fate of those who aligned themselves with that city. Those who chose rebellion over submission, subjecting over serving, the dragon over the Lamb.

Again John reminds us of what we are hoping for…why we don’t give up or give in. Jesus wins, and this is what winning looks like. More than we could have ever truly hoped for or expected. A good reminder in the world we live in today that is nothing like that. A world where pain and suffering, the ugliness of sin in all of its manifestations is so obvious. Where maybe most days we feel beat down and trampled under foot. We need to be reminded…we need to be encouraged…not to give up or give in. The kingdom will be worth it.

But only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will be there. And your name will only be in the book if you have trusted in Jesus, so if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might walk in the light of His glory in the kingdom forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Lament for Babylon

Revelation 18.9-24

Babylon has fallen, and the kings of the earth, the merchants and the seafaring peoples will all mourn over her…not for what it means for her, but for what it means for them. And while those who participate in her wickedness mourn, the righteous will rejoice.

One day every wrong will be righted. Truth will prevail. Good will crush evil. Sin will be atoned for. But until that day we live in a time of waiting. Patient endurance. We don’t like it. And like the martyrs under the altar, we too cry out, “How long?” But God’s patience is mercy. It allows time for repentance. For those far from Him to come to Him…through Jesus. And during this time of waiting, He calls us to be investing…investing our mina. Sharing our story. The hope that we have found in Jesus. Telling them about Him. That’s why we’re still here…waiting. Longing for Him to come back. So don’t give up. And don’t give in. He’ll be here soon enough. 

If you are one of those who have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. The world as we know it is quickly coming to an end. Soon all the vain things that you have been pursuing will be no more. But the things that remain…the eternal things, the unshakable things…they can be yours. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and that you might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Babylon is Fallen

Revelation 18.1-8

The unthinkable has happened…Babylon is fallen. Though her kingdom seemed to be impregnable and her self-proclaimed reign absolute, her judgment is swift and her doom sure. So come out of her lest you share in her downfall.

It’s disturbing to think that believers would have to be warned to flee Babylon…a city described as the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth”, and yet it’s not altogether surprising. Let’s be honest with ourselves…too many of us compromise far too often in far too many areas of our lives. And while we’re being honest…some of those who are the closest to us might be the most surprised to find out that we are Christians based on the way we conduct ourselves at work or school or in social settings, etc.

But it shouldn’t be that way…and it doesn’t have to be. We can’t save ourselves, and we can’t change ourselves…only the Spirit can do that. But He will only do that as we allow Him to. There is a divine partnership involved. We talked about it when we were going through Romans. Saying “yes” to Jesus, and “no” to all the other junk. That looks like…time in God’s Word everyday, praying throughout the day, spending time with other believers as often as possible, sharing my story with those who haven’t yet trusted in Jesus and living a generous life. Beginning to live my life in light of the truth that I am no longer who I used to be. I really have passed from death to life. And now I have the opportunity to live like it. Motivated, not by fear of stepping out of line, but out of love for the One who first loved me.

So don’t give up. Don’t give in. Jesus wins…and that means that you do to.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. You too need to get out of Babylon before it’s too late. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins, eternal life and a place in His kingdom.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.